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Tapping into labour

  • , by Jacob Wolki
  • 2 min reading time
Tapping into labour

It's so obvious that it's embarrassing.

Last month I advertised for a farm manager role. I offered 90k plus a car. I thought that it was a fair offer for a the role and was looking for someone to take the lead of farm management roles such as grazing plans, maintenance, livestock processing scheduling.

The response I got was really interesting. I had a few comments criticising my stinginess, a couple telling me that I was out of touch and I had a few private messages from people around the world saying that they’d kill for the job and experience but a range of things like family and location stopped them.

I think those that criticised the job were comparing our idea of a farm manager to a station manager. One guy said that it should be 6 figures minimum + car + house + phone + meat. I pencilled this to be a minimum of 175k.I try hard not to beat my head on the wall - we are attempting to innovate and create in the space. I went back to the drawing board.

How can I run this farm without skilled labour? I can’t. The animals will suffer. But do I need skilled labour every day all day? No, I don’t. So I did some thinking and rejigged our set up. We are now set up to do our day to day chores such as feeding animals, moving livestock, setting up temporary fences, collecting eggs, grading eggs, moving egg mobiles and doing local deliveries, with relatively unskilled labour.

I can set up a motivated teenager to do all of this by themselves by working 2 days with them. I’m always available on the end of the phone or via our slack chat - but not much goes wrong with the above tasks.

The spots I need some skilled help with is yard work with cattle and sheep, driving to the abattoirs, fencing and tractor work.

I called around to contacts and chased up some new folks. I found a local guy that will come to my farm with working dogs, portable yards and one of his sons. Set up, yard my sheep, draft out what I’ve asked for and then leave the yards behind a week if needed.I’ve got another local gentleman to help my with cattle yard work and is very competent around the farm and driving with loaded trailers. I’ve got a tractor operator that has a tractor far bigger than I can afford, with all the attachments I could dream of and the experience to operate it. I’ve also got a fencer - same deal!

I’ve tapped into a workforce of highly experienced individuals - far more so than me - and they even bring their own equipment. I pay on invoice and don’t have to account for super, payroll tax, workers comp. They even bring their own insurance? I don't even have to guarantee minimum hours! The clincher? It’s cheaper, in every way. Less fiscal spend, less training time, less liability.

If you’re a D2M farm I highly recommend that you tap into a subcontracting workforce.

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